This past Friday was a PD Day, and Dr. Steven Katz came to speak at my school about professional learning in order to improve student results. I've been in sort of a "funk", and I really was not looking forward to being "talked at" for an entire morning. I'm glad I went in with the mindset that I was going to make the most of my morning and take notes, because I felt motivated and challenged in a positive way by Dr. Katz.
Dr. Katz discussed how the path to improvement was "adding value to where you are". I felt this was powerful, because the message was hopeful. The goal isn't to go from okay to awesome, but rather, to make small improvements to eventually get to excellence. This also translates into the idea that "small wins have enormous power". Just as we should be celebrating the small successes of our students, we should celebrate the small successes in our own learning as teachers.
I also appreciated the message that "together is not always better" in terms of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). There are times where I am with my PLC, and we are being professional and a community, but learning isn't actually happening. This is probably because learning is the hardest part of a PLC. As Dr. Katz reminded us, cognitive dissonance is essential to new learning, and that is uncomfortable. The questions remain, how can PLCs be effective? How can PLCs be places where we have "focused learning conversations", not simply "great discussions"? I think one important factor is the necessity to check our egos and be vulnerable...two really difficult tasks. Another key to making PLCs successful, if I understand correctly, is to Plan, Act, Assess, and Reflect. I think we are working on the Plan and Act, but don't always see the Plan through to the end to what may be the most important part of the learning, Assessing and Reflecting.
Overall, the morning with Dr. Katz was worth my time, as I have new ideas to think about and I felt supported and challenged in my teaching.